If you're undergoing a kitchen renovation, you might be feeling swamped by what's on offer when it comes to choosing the benchtop material. Engineered stone is one popular choice, retaining some of the beauty of a natural stone benchtop, but with greater durability.
What Is Engineered Stone?
Engineered stone consists of a mixture of crushed rock (usually quartz) that is combined with other materials such as glass or shells, bonded together with silicon or resin; the exact mixture differs between manufacturers. It is also known by other names, such as composite stone or reconstituted stone, or sometimes an engineered stone benchtop is simply referred to as a quartz benchtop. Because engineered stone slabs are made from a crushed stone mixture, they mimic more expensive natural stone alternatives but are generally cheaper than a stone slab sourced straight from nature.
Consistency And Variety Of Design
Engineered stone is usually more consistent and uniform than natural stone which forms organically. However, because the main ingredient of the engineered stone mixture is natural crushed rock (usually over 90% quartz) the look, color and pattern can vary slightly between batches. This is largely because the crushed rock used in the mix varies depending on the region it originates from. So if you want more than one slab, to guarantee an absolutely consistent appearance, they should come from the same batch. Overall, however, engineered stone shows greater uniformity than natural stone. No two slabs of natural stone are the same.
Being a manufactured product, constituted stone slabs are created in many different textures and designs as manufacturers compete to offer freedom and variety of choice. You will thus be able to order an exact shape, size and color, whereas with natural stone you are limited to what nature produces.
Engineered stone is usually pre-sealed and is durable and nonporous, so it is resistant to scratching and staining. Some natural stones are prone to scratching and staining because they are more porous than engineered stone.
While engineered stone is heat resistant, it is best not to place hot pans directly on the benchtop, as this can mark or crack the surface. Also, while composite stone slabs are tough, they can chip around the edges; this is repairable, though the repair may be noticeable at close quarters.
Engineered stone kitchen benchtops are manufactured to be durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily kitchen life. However, being constituted from a quartz mixture, they retain some of the inherent charm that is characteristic of natural stone. Overall, they are an excellent choice for kitchen benchtops.